Which Press is right for me? The Answer.

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by cpttango30, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. ehfudd

    ehfudd New Member

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    Loaded back in the 70's on a RCBS Junior. Got out of it for a long time. Now i have the Lee Anniversary set up that i got DIRT cheap. I'm happy for now. It's time consuming on this, but right now i have time.
     
  2. genesis

    genesis New Member

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    This is an excellent thread, and especially helpful to rookies and newbies wanting to get in to hand loading.

    I've been shooting, competing, hand loading, and casting my own bullets for over 40 years. I've experimented with all kinds of stuff, and still do. My main reason for reloading is so that I can shoot more economically. I have a shooting range on my property and recycle my lead from my home built sand trap for re-casting. As my only recurring cost are for powder and primers, I can reload pistol ammo for $2.00 a box. Don't load much hot stuff now, just milder plinking loads. I have gas checks, if I need them, for 44 mag and 357 mag. But I generally don't need them.

    Just finished loading 2000 rounds of 40S&W for my new Ruger SR40C. I use a Dillon 550B press. They claim it can reload 500 rounds an hour, but I'm kind of slow, and very deliberate, so I can only do around 300 per hour. I don't go for speed. I just like to enjoy it. It takes a lot of time to cast and reload, but the rewards are many. And now that I retied, I've got the time to really enjoy it. I'll shoot 200 rounds on most nice days for 8 bucks. It's a nice way to spend an afternoon in the outdoors. I figure I shoot somewhere around 40,000 rounds a year. In the winter I shoot from my living room in to my sand trap. My neighbor always kids me about not being married cause his wife wouldn't let him do that. I have 10 acres in Northern Wisconsin, God's country. I'm right next to the Nicolet National Forest. My neighbor is 1/2 mile away and only comes up on some week-ends.

    I stared with an old Lyman single stage press many years ago. Have gone through many different presses. Still have some and sold others. I really like my current set-up.

    A couple of things for a rookie re-loader to consider.

    Don't load up 1000 rounds only to find out that, for what ever reason, they don't work in your gun. Load maybe 20 and try them. If everything seems to work, no signs of high pressure, they feed OK, etc, then load up another 20 and try them. Do this 3 or 4 times before you load those 1000 rounds.

    When loading for an auto, be aware that once-fired brass, or range brass, may have been fired in a Glock pistol. The chamber in a Glock barrel is unsupported, and this causes a slight bulge near the rim. This bulge can not be removed during the normal sizing operation as the case can not be pushed far enough in to the sizing die. Lee Precision sells a "Bulge Buster" to remove this slight bulge. This "Bulge Buster" is used in conjunction with the Lee Factory Crimp Die. Some shooters never have a problem with these "Glocked" cases, and some do. I use the Bulge Buster on all of my cases. They only have to be run through it one time. You don't need to debulge every time you reload cases which you have already fired in your gun (unless you shoot a Glock). Again, some shooters never have a problem with this, and pay no attention to it. But if you're having failure to chamber issues, this may be the problem.

    If you're loading for an auto, take the barrel out and use it as a go-no go gauge on your finished rounds. Cull out any round that won't just slide in to the chamber. These may still be able to be shot if you can get them in to the chamber. Go/No-Go gauges are available for this and I have them for all of the calibers I reload for. Revolver shooters should insert each round in to the cylinder to function test it. Rifle shooters should test each round to make sure it feeds and chambers properly. Do this in a safe place as you're chambering a live round and there is always the possibility of a malfunction. BANG! I spot check my reloads, during the reloading operation, to insure they feed and chamber correctly. I don't check each and every round, unless they will be used in competition.

    If you use an auto powder measure to throw your charges, rather than calibrating it with just 1 charge, throw 10 charges in to the scale pan and get an average. I throw 20 charges, so I'm averaging 20 charges to calibrate. Actually, I throw 3 or 4 charges in to an empty case until I get to 20 charges. Depending on what your reloading, you may only get 1 charge in a case. Dump that one charge in the powder scale and do 19 more. Then average the 20 charges.

    I cast and shoot Lee tumble lube bullets. They're meant to be shot "as cast". They're not meant to be, and shouldn't be, sized. The lube is tumbled on. This is a very fast and efficient way to make bullets.

    I use straight wheel weights for my casting operation, so I kinda keep my velocities down to under 1000 FPS with good accuracy and no leading. I have some straight lino-type for casting harder bullets for higher velocities, and then I use gas checks.

    You can find once-fired brass on the internet. I just recently purchased 2000 40S&W cases for $87 delivered from http://topbrassreloading.com/. It was all cleaned and polished. Very good stuff. I'll be doing business with them again.

    Buy your primers in bulk. I buy 10,000 at a time, locally, and get a better price. If you buy primers or powder on the internet, you will have to pay a haz-mat fee on top of the regular shipping charges.

    When seating primers, make sure they are flush or slightly below flush. A high primer can cause a revolver to jam. (Happened to me in a match once.)

    There are lots of good books on hand loading and bullet casting. The internet is also just full of useful info and "how to's". Go to youtube and do a search on reloading, or hand loading, or bullet casting, or case bulge, and you'll gain a wealth of knowledge. Go to any of the powder company web sites for load data. For me, the internet has overtaken the printed word. But I'm a retired computer instructor at a technical college, so it's natural for me.

    I could go on and on, but I'm sure others will chime in with their useful tips.

    Just be sure to always be safe, and when in doubt, ASK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Happy hand loading, and Semper Fi.

    Don <><

    Watch the below video on basic hand loading considerations.​

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irC3NuIKDm4"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irC3NuIKDm4[/ame]
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012

  3. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    Try the Bulge buster from lee. Looks like their bullet sizer but pushes through the cases instead. Irons out the bulge in a hurry.
     
  4. budman46

    budman46 New Member

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    therewolf,
    does the bulge interfere with chambering your .44's? if not don't worry, cosmetic only!
     
  5. genesis

    genesis New Member

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    The bulge we were talking about can only occur on cases fired in a Glock, so 44's aren't affected as Glock offers nothing in 44 caliber. You may be referring to some really high pressure loads which were fired from a revolver. Ignition causes the case to instantly back out of the cylinder and hit the face plate. This leaves a very tiny part of the case unsupported. If the pressure is high enough, it could cause the unsupported portion of the case to bulge just ahead of the rim. The Lee Bulge buster is only offered for rimless cases (and not in 9MM as that a slightly tapered case). Bulge or no bulge, as long as the loaded round fits your chamber (without forcing it), you should be good to go. Just make sure your OAL is correct.

    Don <><
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012
  6. chasman52

    chasman52 New Member

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    I only shoot a couple a hundred rounds a month. So, a Lee Pro1000 has worked out very well.
     
  7. sigman84

    sigman84 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, so I am looking to get into reloading .223 and 30-06. not much of a budget for reloading at this time so expensive presses are out of the question. I have been looking at 2 kits on midways website. One is the RCBS rock chucker kit the other is the LEE challenger breach lock kit. Just looking to reload to see how much accuracy I can get out of the rifles.
     
  8. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator Lifetime Supporter

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    Would suggest that before buying ANYTHING, you grab a copy of The ABCs of Reloading, and read it ALL. You can snag a used copy on Amazon for about $9.

    And honestly, I do not know of a BAD press- just some gooder than others. :D
     
  9. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    The Lee is a good basic press. I've had one now for 15 years. Just a little advise, get the kit with the hand priming tool. Its much better than priming on the press and the same price. You get a much better feel for primer seating instead of seating on the press downstroke.

    Don't get hung up on brands, use what works best for you. The breach lock press does the same thing as the turret system I use, you just need the switch dies more often instead of twisting a single turret. It still is faster than screwing dies in and out the old way. Less up front cost vs faster system operation. You get what you pay for...

    I personally use an old model Lee three hole progressive turret press for 90% of my reloading. If I bought one today I'd buy the four hole turret model. It has uses when you need 4 dies for pistol calibers. The lee factory crimp die is hard to beat. The primer catch system on the 4 hole is much better than my old press. No more spent primers all over the floor.

    I don't use the progressive feature, I batch load. Most of my 20+ die sets are permanently mounted in three hole quick change turrets. It would cost me too much to switch all those turrets out. So I won't upgrade anytime soon.

    I have an old single stage cast iron Pacific press that I use for odd jobs like depriming before tumbling. Its older than I am and will outlast me. It takes the same Lee shellholders. I have a lee hand press if I feel the need to reload at the range during load development. I have 3 different MEC 600 JR shotshell presses in different gauges. I only buy equipment as I need it, mostly on sale. I hate paying full retail...

    I use a Cabelas brand tumbler to clean my brass. I got it on sale. I prime by hand and load in batches for BR match accuracy. I buy the best brass and projectiles I can afford. Don't cut corners here. You'll just be unhappy with the results. It makes all the diffrence in group size.

    A good selection of reloading manuals is your most important investment. One just doesn't cut it. ABC's is a good start. It and Lee's have good how to reload sections. The best, up to date loading data is avalible on line. The powder manufacturer sites have the load database links. Bullet manufacturer are also an accurate source. Try for two or more sources that agree on a load. It makes for safe, accurate load data.

    The heart of my accuracy search is a good electronic powder scale. I started with Lee dippers and a manual scale. They work, accurately, but are slow to use. I have used a bunch of different adjustable powder drop systems over the years. Then last christmas I bought myself a Lyman automatic scale. I wish I'd skipped everything else and bought this first. Its the best reloading tool money I've ever spent. Buy one as soon as possible....:D

    I've got a large collection of trimming and brass prep tools from different brands. Still haven't found a system I like 100%. All are slow and cumbersome to use. Lee's basic trimmers are cheap and accurate when the case holder is chucked in a drill motor, just time consuming. They work as well as anything else. A nessisary evil for good results...

    Hope these tips help, Dave....
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  10. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Get the RCBS. no contest!
     
  11. sigman84

    sigman84 Well-Known Member

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    I did go and buy a reloading book today. Local Big R had it for $20. Written by Lee.
     
  12. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    The data in the lee book is nothing special. They don't do load development themselves. They only reprint the powder/bullet manufacturers data. These are good reloading data sources I've used before...

    https://www.loaddata.com
    http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/

    Lees data is on the safe side of conservative and doesn't list specific bullets by manufacturer and style. But the how to load section is first rate. Also the section on reduced cast bullet loads is very well done. A first rate book...

    Welcome to reloading, you've taken your first step.;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  13. sigman84

    sigman84 Well-Known Member

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    Ya right now I'm fine with just trying to learn the basics.
     
  14. ninjatoth

    ninjatoth New Member

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    After reloading for a couple of weeks and relying more on the internet for load data than my Lee handloading book 2nd edition, I now realize that the book isn't the greatest handloading book out there, however I do like his can do attitude and big brother like concern and simplified look at the process. I also like that he mentions his own parts and what you need to have and how to use them best. To an advanced reloader its a selling gimmick but to a beginner it's a heaven send to have specific dies and parts that he makes to fit his setups. I been loving the Lee dipper system myself as well as that I only reload one pistol caliber, and a forgiving pistol caliber at that. For me, the single stage was best choice because all I shoot is a 5 shot revolver for my own personal use and I have a lot of time on my hands. If I reloaded auto calibers and shot competition than the single stage would not have been my first choice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  15. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    I still use the dippers at times myself. They are quick and never go out of adjustment. I just wish Lee would make an expansion set to fill some of the gaps along with a new powder dipper card for newer powders like ramshot. I love the fact that the dippers are calibrated in CC's..

    Most of the time I use my Lyman electronic powder system. But its difficult to take to the shooting bench for load development...
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  16. ninjatoth

    ninjatoth New Member

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    I seen a video online where a guy would take the dipper that was a little too big for his desired charge and then file the tops down until a level scoop would throw exactly the amount he wanted.
     
  17. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    I've seen it and tried it myself. I came to the conclusion that it was a bad idea without a really good way to label the modified dippers. I dipped the handles of the mod dippers into rubber tool grip coating, not yellow. That makes sure you don't pick up a modified dipper by mistake.

    Its easier to mod dippers by adding a little epoxy inside the bottom to lower the volume. Use a needle calibrated in cc's like a veterinary needle and its easy to reduce a dipper accurately. Thin 30 min epoxy is best. Let it flow around the inside smoothly. Permanent marker the new cc measure on the coated handle.

    After cutting down a full extra set of dippers I bought a lee adjustable perfect powder measure. I should have just bought the adjustable first...
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  18. firelt

    firelt New Member

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    I've been reloading for about 5 years on my trusty Lee turret press. I've been happy with it because it is easily converted to single stage for my 30-06/.308 needs, but can make a reasonable amount of pistol ammunition when I want it to. I load 9mm, .38/.357, .45 ACP, 30-06 and .308. I stopped reloading .223 when it became available on the market again, but with the right press I'd start up again. I'm looking very hard at the Hornady Lock and Load AP and I have one question concerning the bushings that hold the dies on the AP. Will the dies fit my large collection of Lee dies? I really don't want to have to buy 6-8 new sets of dies. Also, I've managed to snap off 2 mandrels on my 30-06 depriming dies because of military primer crimps. Any advise on that?:confused:
     
  19. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Get an RCBS universal decapping tool for the military brass.


    If you get a Dillon, you can use the LEE dies, just screw the retaining rings up from the bottom
     
  20. Missouribound

    Missouribound Well-Known Member

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    I looked through every post and couldn't find this question.
    Other than space it saves, is there any reason to purchase a turret type press instead single stage presses? I haven't made my purchases yet and I am still in the research aspect of reloading. I will be reloading handgun loads since that is what I shoot at my home range. I am not predisposed to one or the other, just throwing out the question. I suspect I can get a better quality single stage press for the same money as a not so good turret type. I have no problem changing dies since this is a hobby and not a business. It's supposed to be fun, right?